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Dhaulagiri ready for the summit push: "This is looking great, guys!"
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Apr 27, 2005 10: 13 EST
It's all about pasta and high spirits in Dhaula BC right now. The international/Italian team on Dhaulagiri is back in base after setting Camp 2. Gear and ropes have been fixed or left in depots, and acclimatization is complete. The next time they go up the mountain they will push for the summit. When? As soon as the weather permits!

Climbers were hoping to launch a summit bid this week (maybe tomorrow), but unstable weather conditions are forcing them to be cautious: In the last days they’ve had sunny mornings, with clouds covering the sky by midday and snow showers in the evening.

Waiting for a sign from above

A signal from the sky is all the climbers need to kick off their summit push. “After two weeks, I am ready for the summit bid,” reported Iñaki Ochoa. “All we need is, as always, some good weather. I feel good, motivated and strong. This is looking great, guys!”

On the last trip up Dhaulagiri, The team set off from BC on April 22, after having celebrated Romano’s birthday the night before. The first day they moved camp I from 5800 to 6400 and supplied it.

The second day, in unsettled weather conditions, they set camp 2 at 6400m, and made their way further up to 6800, to the base of a mixed rock and ice spur, where they left 500m of rope to fix the section, before heading back to BC.

The international team is sharing the rope-fixing task with a Korean team, the only other expedition currently on Dhaulagiri. Carrying and fixing tasks are shared between the international climbers and the 4 Sherpas working for the Koreans.

Super Sherpas

Among the Sherpa team working for the Koreans, Iñaki knew two of them from previous expeditions - they are ace climbers Serap Jambu, one of the few men who have summited K2 twice, (not to mention nine Everest summits), and Dawa, currently on his way to his fifth Dhaulagiri summit.

Back in base Camp since April 24, the climbers have had time to recover and gather strength for the summit bid.

Pasta for everybody

Speaking of recovering, since most of the team is Italian - Romano Benet, Nives Meroi, Luca Vuerich, Mario Cedolin, Erri De Luca, Cesare Giuliani, and Roberto Alloi - they all eat pasta every single day. The Italians are quick to point out “However, the menu seems to be ok as well for the rest: Slovenian Klemen Gricar, Austrian Christan Stangl, German Peter Guggemos, Spaniard Inaki Ochoa, and Ecuadorian Ivan Vallejo.”

The Italians aren’t just climbing and gorging on pasta, though. They’re also performing some tests on oxygen blood saturation for Undine University. The climbers are collaborating with a project on the evaluation of cognitive functions at high altitude.

Italians Romano Benet, Nives Meroi, Luca Vuerich, Mario Cedolin, Erri De Luca, Cesare Giuliani, and Roberto Allo; Slovenian Klemen Gricar, Austrian Christan Stangl, German Peter Guggemos, Spaniard Inaki Ochoa, and Ecuadorian Ivan Vallejo are currently climbing Dhaulagiri. Most of them will head for Annapurna immediately afterwards.

Nives Meroi was born in Bergamo in September, 1961. She has summited Nanga Parbat, Shisha Pangma (Central Summit), Cho Oyu, G II, G I, Broad Peak and Lhotse. Nives has attempted K2 twice (1994 and 2003) through the north side and Everest in 1999. She typically travels light, climbing alpine-style, without oxygen or high-altitude porters.

Romano Benet was born in Tarvisio in April, 1962. He is an Alpine guide and he has 6 8,000ers, plus Shisha’s central summit, and has attempted K2 three times. He has opened many difficult routes in the Alps and a new line on Bhagirathi II (6,450 m), Garwahl Himalaya.

Luca Vuerich was born in Gemona del Friuli in December, 1975. In 2003, the trio summited GI, GII and Broad Peak to complete a hat-trick in 20 days. Only the Swiss Erhard Loretan and Marcel Ruedi (15 days) and Jean-Claude Sonnenwyl (17 days) achieved it in lesser time.

Last year they summited Lhotse and attempted K2’s North ridge.

Iñaki Ochoa de Olza (born in Pamplona, Spain, 1967) is currently involved in completing the 14 8000+ m peaks, having already summited nine of them: Cho Oyu three times (1993, 2001, and 2004), K2 (2004), Makalu (2004), GI (1996), GII (1996), Lhotse (1999), Everest (2001), Nanga Parbat (2003), and Broad Peak (2003). He has also summited Shisha Pangma Central (1995).

Ivan Vallejo was born in Ambato, Ecuador, on December 19, 1959. His first summit was Chimborazo, the highest peak in Ecuador, in 1978. He soon went for higher mountains in the Himalaya. He is currently involved in the goal of summiting the ‘Fourteen’ 8000ers without supplementary oxygen. Up to now, he has summited ten of them, including Everest twice, and K2.

Image of Nives during the latest preparatory climb, courtesy of the expedition team and the University of Udine

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